Campers were a bit slow in the morning, with many opting for either ‘hair of the dog’ or naps under overcast skies. While this offered some relief from the scorching sun, it also trapped the humid air and made for another hot day.
Luckily, the down-to-earth, guy-next-door Kevin Garrett and his band played mellow yet tight tunes that cured hangovers. People started to perk up and being together on a second day, strangers became more and more friendly to each other. Smiles from passersby that felt like old friends and an endless supply of random high fives promised an even more fun day, if that were possible.
The small WayAway stage area became packed for Dear Rouge, whose alternative dance-rock kept the crowd dancing from start to finish. Lead singer Danielle McTaggart’s stage presence was energetic and contagious, the smile never leaving her blue lipstick coloured lips. She was leaning over the crowd at the edge of the stage, showing her dedication to the fans, while also entertaining us with funny moves, such as using her microphone cord to lasso in her husband/guitar player Drew. Audience favourites such as “Black to Gold”, “Best Look Lately”, and “I Heard I Had” seamlessly blended with the rest of their equally engaging songs. Their cover of Blondie’s “Call Me” sent the crowd over the edge, arms raised high, as the band paid homage to one of the trailblazers of female-fronted rock.
If Day 1 had a porta-potty shortage, festival organizers swiftly added more blue boxes and increased cleaning frequency, which improved the comfort of the festival experience. Plenty of illumination throughout meant that flashlights were barely needed. Based on their quick adaptation to unexpected short-comings it is extremely likely that next year more shaded areas and cooling off stations will be available. Speaking of cooling off, the medical team at Odyssey Medical deserves to be praised and thanked for their excellent response and treatment of the festival-goers, security members and volunteers that suffered from heat exhaustion. They went above and beyond to offer comfort and reassurance, from front line personnel to paramedics, nurses and doctors. Thank you!
The art component of the festival stimulated visual and analytical senses. The “#NATURE” installation around a fenced off area of trees was a clever social commentary, while my personal favourite, the oversized wooden “soon” structural installation, encouraged reflection on the fleeting nature of time and moments, perfectly aligned with the concept of swift song passage. The fact that the artists were continually working on their art throughout the weekend offered a rare glimpse into the artistic process, simultaneously implying that the piece will be finished “soon.”
Continuing the art component was the Etsy shop, where a number of artists offered a wide variety of unique hand-made items, ranging from jewelry and head-bands to questionably timed boots.
The large WayHome stage displayed Modest Mouse on the overhead screen long before crowds had even started gathering for the highly anticipated performance. Songs like “Lampshades on Fire” and “Dashboard” were played early on to connect with the audience quickly. The band’s stage presence was focused, both on their music and the eager people close to the stage, thereby creating a two-way feed of excitement. Two large screens on each side of the stage provided close-ups of the musicians, as dedication shone from their faces. The screens helped add an intimate feel to the experience, as they were able to reach all the way to the back. At one point, all four screens showed a couple’s passionate kiss and left the crowd wondering whether an engagement had just happened. Another fun moment was when lead singer, Isaac Brock, took off his guitar in order to kick a large beach ball back into the crowd, simply because someone had asked him to.
Part of the crowd started moving toward the WayBright stage, in order to catch the surprise guest filling in for Passion Pit’s cancelled time-slot and thus ending the rumours amongst WayHomies. Well, they missed out on an excellent version of “Float On”. At the end of the performance, one thing had become clear, Modest Mouse had been here to exceed expectations and they delivered.
Run The Jewels
The music at the WayBright stage sent the rest of the crowd rushing and as they got closer, it seemed like the surprise guests were playing the soundtrack to their running. On stage were none other than Broken Social Scene! Nobody could have imagined a better surprise. After playing a few songs, to allow their audience to recover from the shock, Kevin Drew stated in a relaxed yet excited manner: “We’ve got an hour to play whatever we want!” while thanking everyone for this opportunity. In typical Broken Social Scene fashion, their stage presence and their infectious infusion of powerful and complex music mesmerized the crowd and gave me goosebumps that lasted throughout the entire set. Just when they were approaching perfection, a surprise guitar solo, performed in perfect harmony by not one, but four guitars would blow the crowd away, in a nearly superhuman manner.
Drew continued to pump up the crowd by loudly chanting “Let’s keep going!” four times. He could have said “Toilet paper!” and the crowd would have still gone wild, to prove how deeply they had hypnotized the audience. The stage banter was incredible, as Drew kept talking to us, “We needed this more than you did, thank you guys, we appreciate it!” and later announcing they were going to go out with a big bang. And what a bang it was! Sparkling fireworks erupted from behind the stage, baffling the audience as to how much better this performance could get. “Wow’s” and “whoo’s” rose up from the incredulous and highly cheerful crowd, as if we had been stupefied by the endless surprises in store just for us. The lines between songs had long ago been blurred and molten into a multisensory explosion, as Broken Social Scene signed off with words to live by: “Enjoy your lives! And make sure they sound just like this!”
Headliner Kendrick Lamar introduced indie-music lovers to a new brand of hip-hop, with positive messages about loving oneself in order to overcome difficulties. He showcased his talent by using the accessibility of hip-hop music to discuss difficult topics, such as depression and addiction. As a case in point, a prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, recently published a scientific article titled “Kendrick Lamar, street poet of mental health” by Akeem Sule and Becky Inkster. For a shorter read check out the University of Cambridge’s news article on the same topic.
At the end of the night I had to think hard about whether I had done any drugs, to feel THIS good. Nope, I had just gotten high on the day’s brilliant performances, with Broken Social Scene as a personal favourite.